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False Advertising Is Illegal And You Can Report It

False Advertising Is Illegal And You Can Report It

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Even though you can’t sue our local celebrities who falsely advertise what their products can do, it turns out there are still other ways to hold them accountable for this practice.

This is because Malaysia has several laws and regulations that provide protection for consumers.

Certain categories of products, like food and medicine, have restrictions on the descriptions that can be used on labels and in advertisements.

Additionally, as a blanket statement, the Health Ministry (KKM) also released a list of health conditions and diseases that no food, medicine, device or service can advertise to supposedly fix.

Such health conditions include kidney disease, heart disease, and diabetes.

Advertising of food for false health benefits

According to KKM’s Guide to Nutrition Labelling and Claims, when creating the packaging, labels and advertising for products, food manufacturers must know the types of nutrient content claims and the conditions for their use.

For example, one of the conditions includes that the food must contain a range of nutrients including carbohydrate, fat, protein, vitamins and minerals for it to be “nutritious”.

Incorrectly labelled (left), correctly labelled (right).
(Picture credit: Twitter and Unimap)

The guide also outlines how certain food products must be labelled and what claims are completely prohibited.

Such claims include those that relate to the 20 health conditions we mentioned above as well as any claims that cannot be substantiated.

According to the Food Regulation 1985, those who violate the requirements above can face a fine of up to RM5,000 or prison time up to 3 years or both.

Advertising of medicine for false health benefits

Through the Medicines Advertisement Board (MAB), KKM also controls how any products and services related to health can be advertised. 

Only registered medicines are allowed to be advertised with health benefits as they have been assured for safe consumption by KKM as the information provided in the ads are factually accurate.

A poster ad for health supplement claiming to make you taller.
(Picture credit: Lazada)

Those found guilty of the offence face a fine of up to RM3,000 or up to one year of prison time or both. And for any subsequent conviction, perpetrators face a fine of up to RM5,000 or imprisonment up to two years or both.

Before you make a complaint 

Before you report illegal and false ads, you first need to know how to spot them.

For medicines, check that the product has a KKLIU (Kementrian Kesihatan Lembaga Iklan Ubat) approval number.

KKLIU number is a serial number given to MAB approved advertisement displayed on the ad itself.

It’s a bit trickier for food products, and you’re gonna have to be a bit rajin to be able to spot these.

If you see any suspicious labels on food products, you’ll have to search for relevant the section in the Food Regulation 1985 and double-check if the product follows the regulations stated.

Now, report them!

Interestingly, there are actually several different organisations where you can lodge reports and complaints.


Picture credit: Foursquare

Since false advertising is breaking the law, you can report them to the police.

All you need to do is visit the nearest police station and lodge a report against the product and its owner.

The police will look into the case and work with any governing body responsible, in the case of food and medicine, that would be KKM.

National Consumers Complaint Center

Picture credit: National Consumers Complaint Center

This is literally the place to make complaints about any product or service you find unsatisfactory.

You can lodge complaints on their website here.

Ministry of Health

Picture credit: Ministry of Health

Due to the fact that false health claims fall under KKM, you can make a direct complaint to them too.

Based on our research, we believe a complaint about false advertising should fall under “kegagalan mengikut prosedur yang ditetapkan” (failure to follow fixed procedures).

You can lodge a complaint on their website here. Or you can contact them through any of the avenues below:

Telephone : 03 – 8883 3707
Fax : 03 – 8888 6187
Address: Unit Komunikasi Korporat,
Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia,
Aras 4, Blok E7, Kompleks E,
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan,
62590 Putrajaya.

If you really can’t wait, you can also just visit their corporate communications department or any Jabatan Kesihatan Negeri and lodge a complaint there in person.

You’ll probably wanna make reports against false advertisers at all three organisations to increase your chances of action being taken.

If all else fails and the organisations find that no action is required, knowing your consumer’s rights and what descriptions can be used on labels and in advertisements can help you from being misled by ads or sales representatives. 

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